On Wednesday 22 November, Rachel Treweek, Bishop of Gloucester visited Cirencester Deer Park School and met with pupils in Year 10 to reflect on body image and the impact of social media on young people’s wellbeing.
This was linked to a wider piece of pastoral work the Bishop is doing. Bishop Rachel has been campaigning over the last year and half to change the messages around ‘what the perfect body image is’ and promoting the message that ‘who you are is more than how you look.’ She has been visiting schools and speaking in the media about this issue, trying to raise awareness of the issue and build confidence in young people.
During her visit Bishop Rachel met with a group of Year 10 boys and a group of Year 10 girls and asked them how they feel about the issue of body image and what we can do to change the message together. She passionately believes that most young people are incredible role models to others and it is what they think that will change the message that is the most powerful thing. She said, ‘We have heard some really sad stories about how this issue has affected some young people and it amazing when they feel able to open up about it.’
Bishop Rachel encouraged our pupils to reflect on where we get our values from and then invited each pupil to describe what they value most in the people they love and admire. She reflected that ‘curiously, in spite of the amount of time individuals think about it, the outcome is never about what they look like, but it gets young people thinking about how they view their peers.’
Bishop Rachel and her team have been fortunate enough to work alongside many other organisations working to change the message, including YMCA, The Children’s Society and the University of the West of England, who produce all the Dove Self-Esteem Project resources. Learn more about her Liedentity campaign...
The contributions our pupils made to the debate were filmed, including some of our boys who spoke directly to the camera. The footage will feature at a National Conference highlighting the views of young people and how they cope with the pressures upon them and the issues they face.
Mrs Stubbs, our Year 11 Year Leader, listened to the pupils: 'I was impressed by our pupils and their understanding of how media influences body image and the impact this can have on teenage mental wellbeing. They openly shared their opinions of how advertising purposefully encourages unrealistic images rather than focusing on an individual’s talent and achievements.'
The programme for Bishop Rachel’s visit also included the opportunity to join one of our GCSE RP lessons. Here pupils who are currently studying Christianity were able to ask her questions. Kaylen said 'Bishop Rachel was a great source for new ideas on teachings and explained the topics well and in great detail' and Anya commented 'It was really good to see her point of view on different issues and it was a good use of revision. It was interesting to learn her opinion on topics such as Euthanasia.' The Bishop complimented them on their knowledge. Miss Hope, Head of RP, Citizenship and PSHEe, commented, 'RP10P4 were incredibly lucky to have the opportunity of a Q & A with Bishop Rachel. I was impressed with the way in which they were able to discuss with confidence some of the more challenging areas of the GCSE specification. Bradley asked Bishop Rachel a complex theological question around original sin.'